While workplace bullying may present serious personal and social costs, new research from NUI Galway has also shown its potential impact on the Irish economy.
New research from NUI Galway has highlighted the potential economic cost of workplace bullying due to its impact on employee productivity. The study, led by Dr John Cullinane and Dr Margaret Hodgins, estimated that 1.7m days are lost in Ireland due to workplace bullying every year, potentially costing the economy a total of €239m annually.
According to the research, published in the journal Occupational Health, workplace bullying is a “pervasive problem” perpetrated by co-workers repeatedly and systematically over a prolonged time period, with “significant personal, social and economic costs”.
The team estimated the number of workdays lost as a result of workplace bullying and calculated the economic value of the associated loss of productivity. It said that the findings could be important for informing policy.
The study also found that workplace bullying is more common in the public sector, but that it is linked to more staff absences in the private sector.
Commenting on the research, Cullinan said that workplace bullying is something to be seriously considered, even in the midst of Covid-19. “Workplace bullying is a pervasive problem with significant personal and wider costs. Our study highlights the considerable economic cost of workplace bullying in Ireland,” he said.
“In addition to lost productivity from workplace bullying, there are also likely to be costs associated with early retirement and ‘presenteeism’. Furthermore, bullying-related costs are unlikely to have gone away as a result of new Covid-19 work-from-home practices.”
Hodgins added: “To tackle the problem, organisations need an anti-bullying policy in order to signal to staff that bullying is unacceptable. However, a policy is insufficient in itself and it is vital that it is implemented fairly and in a timely fashion.
“Ideally, organisations should be proactive, identifying how and when bullying occurs in the organisation, and be prepared to develop specific interventions that are appropriate to context.”